DENR told to void  deal with Masungi
OpinYon Rizal

DENR told to void deal with Masungi

Rizal Solons say MOA is dubious

Nov 13, 2023, 3:30 AM
Felix Tambongco

Felix Tambongco


FOUR of the six Rizal congressmen are dead serious in “deporting” a private foundation over allegations of land grabbing using what they referred to as a suspicious document that effectively ceded some 2,700 hectares of land forming part of the ancestral domain of the Dumagat-Remontado indigenous group in the municipality of Baras.

According to Rizal 2nd District Rep. Emigdio Tanjuatco III, the squabble over the upland area has disrupted the peace and order situation in the province.

Aside from Tanjuatco, other Rizal congressmen – Reps. Michael John Duavit (1st District), Jose Arturo Garcia Jr. (3rd District), and Juan Felipe Nograles (4th District) cited the need to restore order and revert the land to Dumagats whom they claimed have been settling in the southernmost tip of Sierra Madre Mountain Range long before Masungi Georeserve Foundation was formed.

“I thank my colleagues from Rizal for supporting our call to investigate the series of suspicious activities in Masungi Georeserve ranging from alleged land-grabbing, illegal fencing to alleged violation of environmental laws,” Tanjuatco said.

The Masungi Georeserve is a conservation area situated in the Southern Sierra Madre range in the municipalities of Baras and Tanay, Rizal that surrounds the geological formations of the Masungi Rock and is part of the Marikina Watershed Reservation. It is home to hundreds of species of flora and fauna.

A management contract was awarded by DENR to Masungi Georeserve Foundation Inc. through a memorandum of agreement that was signed in 2017 by then Environment Secretary Gina Lopez.

The MOA which ceded perpetual trust over parcels of land covered by Presidential Decree No. 324 and the Greater Masungi Karst in favor of the corporation, raises questions in relation to Sec 2 Article 12 of the 1987 Constitution and has shown various inconsistencies with E-NIPAS (Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System) Act.

Tanjuatco also cited incidents of violence in July 2021 and February 2022, wherein Georeserve Forest Rangers were allegedly attacked while carrying out their duties. Interestingly, a police investigation showed otherwise.

Last Sept. 18, more than 30 armed men, allegedly associated with a private security agency, encamped along the Marikina-Infanta Highway, between the Kaliwa and Marikina Watersheds.

Tanjuatco also noted that the reported construction of illegal fences along the premises of Masungi has restricted the rightful access of Dumagat farmers and residents, affecting their livelihood and day-to-day activities.

“More alarmingly, indigenous peoples in the area have allegedly been displaced due to these illegal construction activities,” added Tanjuatco in reference to the exorbitant entrance fees being collected by Masungi Georeserve Foundation from foreign and local tourists wanting a glimpse of the area’s natural wonders.

A check with various collecting agencies showed that Masungi isn’t paying taxes to the government.

Since the incident, Tanjuatco has been regularly monitoring the Masungi situation and closely coordinating with the Rizal provincial government, environmental agencies, local government units, and the Philippine National Police.

“Kaya nanawagan kami na magtulungan tayong bigyang liwanag ang mga issues sa Masungi. Siguruhin nating nasusunod ang batas para sa proteksyon ng kalikasan at mamamayan,” Tanjuatco quipped.

#OpinYonRizal #Rizal #DENR #Masungi #DumagatRemontado #IndigenousGroup #EmigdioTanjuatcoIII #MichaelJohnDuavit #JoseArturoGarcia #JuanFelipeNograles #MasungiGeoreserveFoundation #GinaLopez #OpinYon #WeTakeAStand

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